“Where do you get your ideas?” is a pretty common question for writers. There seems to be an awe surrounding ideas, as if that were the hardest thing about the story (newsflash: It’s the writing part that’s hard). Here’s how I got the idea for a short story I just finished, called “Junk for Sale, Stories Free.”
At one point I spotted a couple of articles that interested me in The Washington Times. Since I was at work, I tore out the articles, folded them up, and stuck them in a notebook. I meant to take out the articles and toss them into my idea box, but I forgot. About a month later, I happened to have the notebook with me as I was pondering the next project. I decided the project needed to be fiction because I’m trying to get recent fiction credits for my next round of queries. Anyway, I’m trying to think of ideas, and I see the folded up articles. I pull both of them out and read through them. The first one didn’t do much for me. The second one was Hyenas Not a Laughing Matter in Ethiopia. As I reading it, I misread a single sentence. That misread sentence led to the story. A very simple place to find an idea.
The story weighs in at 753 words. I just got it into the email to a paying publication, so I’ll see what happens.